10 Best Hikes in Maui HI – Ancient Maui Hiking Trails

Maui is one of the islands that belong to the state of Hawaii, and it’s filled with gorgeous trees and beaches. Maui is home to the famous Hana Highway, which attracts lots of tourists every year. The island also has the West Maui Mountains and the Haleakala Volcano on the east side of the mountain. Maui is full of great places to hike, especially in the Haleakala National Forest. 

Maui, Hawaii.

Maui is full of breathtaking hikes.

1. Kīpahulu District

This district has two trails: the Pipiwai Trail and the Kūloa Point Trail. The Pipiwai Trail is a round-trip trail that is 4 miles long and has an elevation change of 800 feet. A point of interest of this trail is the Makahiku Overlook, which will give you the first glimpse of a waterfall. A bamboo forest can be found about one mile into the hike. There are boardwalks and footbridges there. 

The main point of interest for the Pipiwai Trail is Waimoku Falls. It’s located 2 miles into the hike, and it’s one of the main reasons people do this hike. The second trail in this district is the Kūloa Point Trail. The trail is short; it’s only 0.5 miles total. The trail is mostly popular for its views of the ‘Ohe’o Gulch, which is sometimes called the Seven Sacred Pools. The ‘Ohe’o Gulch is very popular for swimming. However, it’s closed at the moment due to hazardous conditions. Check out the website for updates on that.

Pros: 

  • Two waterfall hikes
  • Free car camping
  • The Pipiwai Trail
  • Kūloa Point Trail
  • Bamboo forest 
  • ‘Ohe’o Gulch, sometimes called the Seven Sacred Pools

Cons:

  • Only accessible from Hana Highway
  • Has flash floods and rock slides

2. Waihe’e Ridge Trail

Located in the Waihe’e Valley, this trail is filled with spectacular views. Wherever you look from the top of the trail, you’re greeted with a different view: the ocean, lush rainforests, and Makamakaole Falls. Bird watchers will find themselves in heaven while on this trail. Birds that can’t be found anywhere else in the world live along this trail!

The peak of the trail features a picnic table, and benches are scattered at different overlooks. The trail is very well maintained, although it can get very muddy after heavy rainfall. So, be careful not to fall! The trail is rated as difficult. 

Once you reach the top, don’t just turn around and go back. You should breathe in the views of the valley below and pause for a moment. The trail offers switchbacks to help hikers get up and down. Also, dogs are welcome, but they have to be kept on a leash. 

Pros:

  • Beautiful views
  • The trail is well maintained
  • Picnic table
  • Bird watching
  • Dog friendly

Cons:

  • Easy to drive past parking lot
  • Can get muddy

3. Keonehe’ehe’e Trail

Also known as the Sliding Sands Trail, this out and back trail is 17.6 miles long and is rated as difficult. There’s an elevation gain of 3,845 ft., so hikers should be careful of altitude sickness. The trail merges with the Halemau’u Trail after it leads away from the crater. At this point, the trail becomes surrounded by more greenery and flowers. 

One point of interest on this trail is the crater floor. It’s about 3.9 miles in, and the elevation change is almost 2,500 ft.! Another point of interest is Pele’s Paint Pot. It’s about 5.7 miles into the trail, and it’s located near the north side of Halāli’i cinder cone. The final point of interest on this hike is Kawilinau! It was formerly referred to as the bottomless pit. It was made by a volcano and is about 65 feet deep. 

Pros:

  • Pele’s Paint Pot
  • Full-day hike
  • Crater floor
  • Kawilinau, or the “bottomless pit”
  • Elevation gain

Cons:

  • Costs money

4. ‘Iao Valley State Park

There are two main hiking trails in this state park: the ‘Iao Needle Lookout Trail and the Ethnobotanical Loop. The trails are both paved and loops. ‘Iao Needle Lookout Trail has a small scenic viewpoint where you can see the ‘Iao Needle from a distance. The trail is rated as easy so it’s good for all skill levels.

The Ethnobotanical Loop is made up of a small path that takes you through a well-maintained botanical garden! There’s a small building at the bottom of the valley that has a bathroom and trash cans. Parking is $5 per car, unless you are a Hawaiian resident. The building does not have a water fountain, so make sure you bring your own water.

Pros:

  • Lots of native flora
  • ‘Iao Needle Lookout Trail
  • Ethnobotanical Loop
  • Restrooms
  • Trash cans

Cons:

  • Parking fee

5. Summit Area

The Summit Area of the Haleakalā National Park has over 30 miles of hiking trails that offer some 10-minute trips and some multi-day trails. There are five trails that lead to craters and overlooks. The Leleiwi Overlook is a 0.3 mile round trip to a crater viewpoint, and you have to cross the park road to reach the trailhead. The Halemau’u Trail is a 3.3 mile round trip on a rocky path that also leads to a crater viewpoint.

This trail also has a natural land bridge that is commonly known as the “Rainbow Bridge,” which will take you down switchbacks that are carved into the crater walls. The Supply Trail is a 4.6-mile round trip hike that is a junction to the Halemau’u Trail. The Hosmer Grove trail has native and non-native trees; the non-native were planted before the park was established to help control erosion.

It also has honeycreepers that are one of a kind. The final trail is named Pā Ka‘oao, and it’s only 0.4 miles round trip. This trail is next to the Haleakalā Center, and it has views of an ancient rock wall and the Haleakala Crater. When hiking here, hikers should bring sunscreen, food, and plenty of water. Don’t forget hiking shoes, rain gear, and a hat! 

Pros:

  • 30 miles of hiking trails
  • Leleiwi Overlook
  • Halemau’u Trail
  • Supply Trail
  • Hosmer Grove Trail
  • Pā Ka‘oao Trail

Cons:

  • The high elevation could lead to altitude sickness
  • Hypothermia is possible at high altitudes

6. Waiʻanapanapa State Park

This state park is accessible all year long! It has five trails: Sea Caves and Black Sand Beach Trail, Waianapanapa Coast Trail North, Waianapanapa Coast Trail South, Black Sand Beach and Blowhole, and Waianapanapa Caves Loop. The first trail, Sea Caves and Black Sand Beach Trail, is a loop trail that is 0.6 miles long. It’s a great stop on the road to Hana, and it’s rated as moderate. 

The second trail is an out and back trail that’s 2.1 miles long. It’s rated as moderate and provides beautiful scenery of wildflowers and the ocean. The third trail is very similar to the second one: it’s out and back and is 2 miles long. It’s also rated as moderate. It’s not heavily traveled, so there’s a good chance you’d be taking in that beauty alone.

The fourth trail, Black Sand Beach and Blowhole, is only 0.6 miles long and is a loop trail. This trail is rated as easy, so it’s good for all skill levels. And the last trail, Waianapanapa Caves Loop, is very short. It’s a loop trail that is 0.3 miles, but it has freshwater caves that are great for swimming!

Pros:

  • Located off Hana Highway
  • Volcanic-sand beaches
  • Tide pools
  • Restrooms
  • Trash cans
  • Blowholes

Cons:

  • Permit required for camping (not for Hawaiians)
Maui, Hawaii.

Beautiful foliage is everywhere on the Road to Hana.

7. Lahaina Pali Trail

This trail is located near Lahaina, Maui, and it is 3.5 miles and heavily-trafficked. The trail is out and back, so you have to hike back the same way you hiked in. The trail is available all year long, and it is mostly used for running, nature trips, hiking, and bird watching. When going bird watching, look out for the Nene, the state bird of Hawaii!

The trail is filled with all kinds of flora and fauna. Maybe you’ll be able to spot eucalyptus plants or a yellow hibiscus flower! The sun can be very brutal, so don’t forget a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the UV rays! The terrain is very rocky, so wear shoes that are specifically for hiking. And, bring plenty of water! Dogs are welcome here, but make sure to keep them leashed. It also might be best to not do the whole hike if you bring your dog so their paws are protected from the sharp rocks.

Pros:

  • Bird watching
  • Available year-round
  • Dog friendly
  • Beautiful wildflowers

Cons:

  • Difficult rating

8. Hoapili Trail

This trail is at the La Perouse Bay, so it circles around the sea. There are a few spots where the lava and sand meet to make interesting features. There are rock walls in the area, which used to be an ancient village named Keone’ō’io. There are lots of overgrown Kiawe trees lining the shore that provide a nice shade. In the forest of trees, you might get to see wild goats!

After passing the forest, there’s a barren expanse of lava. This trail is clearly marked by mile markers so you don’t get lost. The trail can get very rough due to the lava below. If you see a large space of greenery, you’ve reached Keawanaku Beach! The path to the beach can be tough to follow, but just head towards all the green!

When you get back on Hoapili Trail, you’ll follow it back towards the coastline and another forest of Kiawe trees. A little further and there’s another beach called Kanaio Beach. The sand there is a grayish mix, which makes a beautiful contrast on the blue sea. You can choose to make it a day trip and turn around, or you can keep going! This trail goes on for miles.

Pros:

  • Round trip of 6 miles
  • Elevation gain of 80’
  • Small coastal trails 

Cons:

  • Rough trail
  • Bring water

9. La Perouse Bay Trails

This trail follows the southern edge of the bay and Maui’s most recent lava flow in the 1790s. The sea offers so much wildlife to see and interact with! The trail has very little shade, so don’t forget hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Prepare to be surrounded by lava rocks!

Right after the start of the trail, you’ll pass by some ruins of ancient Hawaiian structures! This trail has been used for hundreds of years. And just imagine, people used to do the walk barefoot! After the structures, you’ll see a small blowhole in the lava. And it’s right next to the sea. 

There’s a short break through a forested section. Once you’re through that, though, all that’s left is crushed lava. Some lava trails are much more difficult than this one, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful. There are also herds of black and brown goats running around the structures! Don’t forget to take a dip in the sea to cool off!

Pros:

  • Swimming
  • Snorkeling
  • Dog friendly
  • Right next to the sea

Cons:

  • Little shade
  • No freshwater
  • Water can get rough

10. Twin Falls Trail

This trail is located on a private island; however, it is open to the public. The trail is 1.8 miles of heavily-trafficked out and back trail. It has three waterfalls: one upper and two lower. The lower waterfall is always open and perfect for swimming. The upper fall is sometimes closed due to heavy rainfall. 

Hikers can also jump off the cliffs into the pools down below. The waterfalls are the most accessible in all of Maui. The trail is located on the Wailele Farm, which is a family-owned and operated bio-diverse farm. The lowers falls are very easy to access from the entrance of the trail, and the upper fall is a bit more difficult to access. It’s up a gravel road, but the view the fall provides is worth the hike. 

When you reach the end of the trail, the swimming pool at the bottom of the waterfall provides a place to cool off. Bring your dogs and let them take a swim too! This trail is great for those looking for a moderately easy hike to beautiful waterfalls!

Pros:

  • 1.8 miles 
  • Waterfalls
  • Moderate rating
  • Available year-round
  • Dog friendly

Cons:

  • Upper waterfall closes seasonally
  • Trails can close because of fire ants

Final Verdict:

The Summit Area offers the best hikes on this Hawaiian island that are also very different. While the big island of Maui has lots of different forests and mountains that provide a variety of sites, the Summit Area has all of those attributes in one area! Having five trails in total, which adds up to almost thirty miles, it has great viewpoints of the Haleakala Crater, the Rainbow Bridge, and different kinds of trees and wildflowers. 

Whether you want to hike the Leleiwi Overlook, the Halemau’u Trail, the Supply Trail, the Hosmer Grove Trail, or the Pā Ka‘oao Trail, you have lots of different terrains to choose from. What all these trails have in common is that all hikers should bring lots of drinking water, their own food, and protection from the sun. Hikers will also need good hiking shoes because the terrains are very tough. Also, it rains a lot, so rain gear is never a bad idea!

 

Bonus tip: watch this video for things to do when you’re in Maui!

 

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Riley Draper

Riley Draper

Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.